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The W-Suite | There is no ceiling to reach the top: Lara Balsara Vajifdar

With a rapidly evolving business and economic landscape there is a dire requirement of fresh thinking, new skill sets, greater flexibility & adaptability, more collaboration as well as the ability to think on one’s feet. 

Gone are the days when the thinking was more on the lines of get a man to do this job. Diversity in the workforce has become a necessity today, and more so in the leadership positions. It can’t be denied that women bring a high level of creativity and empathy while solving problems and handling crises. Women leaders bring to the table a different level of dexterity. 

There are way too many trend-setters and convention-breakers today. And we don’t have to look far, as there are several inspiring women leaders in the Indian advertising and media industry, who have achieved much and paved the way for many to follow. 

After doing her Masters in Marketing from Bristol University in the UK, Lara Balsara Vajifdar joined her father Sam Balsara’s media-buying company, Madison World, as a management trainee. She has been working with Madison for over 10 years now and has worked her way to the top, becoming Executive Director, Madison World. Lara has been instrumental in diversifying the group into newer areas of Communication. She is also in charge of organisation building. 

What defines a woman leader in today’s ecosystem?
A woman leader is and should be no different from a male leader. A leader is a leader. 

Why do you think a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions?
Women have several other family responsibilities and, therefore, leave the workforce. Those who are able to manage both by having a good support system reach the top of their professions. 

Do you think women leaders are still scrutinised as much for style as for substance?
It depends on the profession and industry that one is in. Some professions give a higher weightage to ‘style’ and that is fine. 

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
I don’t think it is fair to generalise. Women are known to be good at multi-tasking, but that doesn’t mean that men are not. 

How do you maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? How frequently do you have to sacrifice one for the other?
It is a question of prioritising and focusing on what is important at that particular point in time. Sacrifices always have to be made, it’s a part of life! 

Do you think pay parity exists in our corporates today across levels? What about pay parity at the leadership levels?
Yes, especially in our advertising industry, pay parity does exist. 

What would be your advice to women aiming for the C-suite?
Any organisation is always looking out for good talented people. If you can focus on your job and be good at it, there is no ceiling to reach the top. 

What, according to you, are the 3 important lessons new women leaders need to learn?
Don’t expect the organisation to do something for you to enable you to work. Your family is your responsibility and you need to create a good ecosystem/ support system so that you can work and reach the top.

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